Baekseju is a transparent Korean rice wine with a herb taste made from fermented glutinous rice. Ginseng is the primary flavor, with a mixture of herbs and spices such as ginger, omija (Schisandra chinensis), goji berries, or cinnamon thrown in for good measure.
It's a mildly sweet beverage with a distinct herbaceous taste that's normally bottled at 13% ABV. While the first written mention of baekseju dates from the 17th century, Kooksoondang was the first to launch a modern version of the drink in 1992.
It was previously only available as a home-brewed beer. Baekseju means "100-year wine," a name given to it because of its alleged health benefits, which allow a person to live up to 100 years. It's often mixed with soju to make osipseju, a common drink.
Both drinks should be eaten chilled and are often served with spicy foods.
First, there's the name. "Baek Se Ju" translates to "100-year wine." It was first mentioned in a 17th century book called Jibong'yuseol, which was an encyclopedia written by a scholar named Yi Su-Gwang. The following is a story about baekseju from the book:
A traveler was walking along a path when he saw a young man standing over an elderly man with his pants sleeves rolled up, whipping him with a switch. "How dare you lay your switch on this old man's knee!" the traveler exclaimed, indignant at the young man's insolence.
The young man responded as follows: "This is my precious only son, whom I gave birth to at the age of 80. And he's getting old this way because he didn't drink the wine I recommended. As a consequence, I'm attempting to teach him a lesson."
This is a cool tale that illustrates the ironic humor that is prevalent in traditional Korean culture. The real story, however, is how the new baekseju came to be on the market.
Baekseju is produced by the Kooksoondang Brewery Co., which specializes in traditional wine brewing. Before Kooksoondang chose to mass-produce baekseju, the wine was only available in small pockets of Korea as a moonshine recipe.
Importantly, while Kooksoondang followed the conventional formula for baekseju, it made numerous changes to create a product that would appeal to a wider audience. The wine was released in 1992, and the company promoted it with a clever poster that retold the Jibong'yuseol tale.
The end result was a big hit. Brew, soju, and whisky were the only three forms of alcohol available in the Korean market in the early 1990s. Baekseju was well-positioned to win the demand for people who wanted to drink but not get wasted.
(For those who wanted something a little stronger than baekseju, "osipseju" ("50 year wine"), a common alternative was quickly invented by combining soju and baekseju one-to-one.) The good-for-your-health narrative worked well with the product, reinforcing the idea that baekseju is the way to go if you want to prevent a hangover the next morning.
Kooksoondang has grown 100 times in sales thanks to baekseju since 1992, and is now the market leader in traditional Korean wine of all kinds. While baekseju may not be especially authentic, it is safe to say that it paved the way for the rediscovery of Korean traditional wine.
Is baekseju really beneficial to one's health? It's possible that it's not especially potent (around 13 percent alcohol) and contains many herbs used in traditional medicine.
According to the company's own study, baekseju is just as effective as red wine in cancer prevention and also protects the stomach lining.
But, at the end of the day, alcohol is alcohol, and there's only so much good it can do for your wellbeing.
Instead of focusing on the supposed health benefits, drink baekseju as a toast to how tradition, a good product, and clever marketing came together to make one of Korea's most popular alcoholic beverages.
Good liquor Baekseju is made by the restored raw rice fermentation method.
The method of fermentation of raw rice, which was a formulation of 'Baekhaju', a silk liquor of the Goryeo Dynasty, was used.
The method of fermentation is to powder raw rice without steaming it to form alcohol.
After a long effort, it was restored and revived.
Do not apply high heat until alcohol is made, and use powdered raw rice and room temperature water.
It's a way to make alcohol using it as it is. "Pour the rice and pour the boiling water."
Doughing makes liquor" is a method developed by restoring it to today based on the literature.
Baekseju is made by fermentation of raw rice by grinding raw rice without mixing alcohol.
The taste and nutrition are alive as raw rice is ground without steaming it.
It is made of raw rice, not steamed, which is rich in essential amino acids and B vitamins and causes hangovers.
It is rich in alcohol metabolites that can break down acetaldehyde.
Raw rice fermentation method that produces good alcohol is to increase raw materials through 60% energy savings in the entire process.
This is an eco-friendly method that can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide generated.